Fresh Meat: Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd

Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd is the debut of a Regency historical mystery series featuring rector's daughter Lucy Harrington and the wounded Major Robert Kurlan (available November 26, 2013).

First in a new series of Regency-set mysteries, Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd offers a historical twist on cozies. After raising her own siblings, Lucy Harrington is facing a lifetime of housekeeping and charitable visits while her widowed father, the rector of the village, indulges his passion for both horses and their ill-tempered cook. Therefore, when wounded Major Robert Kurland sees suspicious activity from his window at night, she welcomes the distraction from her domestic woes. Meanwhile, Major Kurland is glad to be diverted from the pain and frustration of his shattered leg, as well as the fear that he will never walk or ride again.

I particularly enjoyed how the barriers Lucy faces are tied into the expectations of the historical society in which she lives. That bodes well for the series, as these issues will not go away, and will provide ongoing and hopefully evolving character tension to go along with the mystery plots. Chief among her issues is whether she will remain a spinster, caring for her father and his house, or if she will be able to go to London in search of a husband.

“I feel like a child when you treat me like one, and refuse to back my authority.”

“Don’t be silly. Didn’t I just tell Mrs. Fielding to obey your orders?”

“With the proviso that I have to listen to her about what she cooks, which defeats the whole purpose of this conversation!”

The rector sat down again and looked at her over the top of his spectacles. “I do not appreciate your tone or your anger, neither of which are appropriate for a gently born female.”

“And I do not appreciate being put in an impossible position.” Lucy took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “I manage your house and children, and yet I am not your wife and I do not have the authority of a wife.”

“As my eldest daughter, it is your duty to do so.”

“But what about my life, Papa? When do I get a chance to have a family of my own?”

“Your selfishness appalls me. Do you think I complained when God took my wife from me? I took up my burden and kept on despite everything.”

“And I helped you willingly, but things are changing now. Anthony will be off to Cambridge in the autumn and the twins will go to school. You will no longer need me quite so much.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“I think it is time for me to find my own husband and home.”

It’s unclear whether there will be any future romantic entanglement between Lucy and Robert, but the seeds are there, and from their first scene, they strike sparks from each other. If, instead, they merely evolve further in their platonic partnership, the differences between their personalities will still result in intriguing plot tension that will perhaps affect how they go about solving mysteries. 

Though they have very different life experiences, they are not as different as they might appear on the surface, and are tied together through their long friendship.

…the gently reared spinster daughter of the rector should have no ability to understand him or the brutal military life he’d led overseas. Robert frowned. She did understand him, and sometimes surprised him with her matter-of-fact common sense. He’d never thanked her for her care when he’d been delirious with fever and begging for someone to put an end to his agony.

Even if there is no ongoing romantic plotline, marriage was a significant concern of Regency women, so it would be unlikely to be utterly absent from the series. However, if you’re not a reader who likes ongoing romance plots, there’s still plenty of entertainment to be had from the village of Kurland St. Mary and its residents. I’m already wondering when murder will arrive there again.

 

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Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories.  She also reads a lot.  Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.

Read all posts by Victoria Janssen for Criminal Element.

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